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City-owned Land on South Beryl Avenue

January 11, 2016
Victor City Council
32 Elm St
Victor, Idaho 83455
Re: City-owned Land on South Beryl Avenue

Dear Council:

We understand the city is considering auctioning off the land located on South Beryl Avenue. Because this parcel is a prime city location with enormous potential for redevelopment in Downtown Victor, we would suggest the city, through its Urban Renewal Agency (URA), consider recruiting an experienced developer to create a high-quality project on the city’s land. This can be accomplished through a Request for Proposals (RFP) process. The city has adopted a new land use code and zoning map that sets the stage for a thriving, compact core, and on the heels of this monumental action, the city is uniquely positioned to catalyze quality redevelopment in its downtown.

A restaurant and adjoining public space proposal from an RFP process in Moscow, Idaho

A restaurant and adjoining public space proposal from an RFP process in Moscow, Idaho

We fear that simply auctioning off the land will not maximize the city’s interests, particularly in terms of use, configuration, design, and public presence. The experience of peer communities in Idaho and beyond demonstrates that a public-private partnership achieve the best outcomes for the city. Our reasons are as follows:

1.  An RFP process will allow the city to ensure that a high-quality project will be built, and that such development will spur revitalization in the downtown area quickly – and in a manner consistent with the city’s Comprehensive Plan and Land Use Code.

2.  As part of the RFP process, developers can provide drawings and other visualizations that will create interest and excitement in Victor.

3.  A city-sanctioned project can harness the robust housing market, get units built downtown, and increase demand for commercial development. A housing shortage can be a happy problem – building more units will not only address vast and growing demand, but will spur the “peopling” necessary for a vibrant downtown.

4.  An RFP process can expose the project to top developer talent from around the country.

5.  If the city does not receive an acceptable bid, it can then opt to auction the land.

The RFP process for development on city-owned lands is an option utilized by many. Examples include:

1.  McCall and Ketchum are currently drafting RFPs for city-owned land that will be developed under their respective URAs.

A 32-unit housing development was built through an RFP process in Ketchum.

A 32-unit housing development was built through an RFP process in Ketchum.

2.  Ketchum, Moscow, and Nampa have all used the RFP process to develop city-owned lands to meet housing, redevelopment, and economic goals.

3.  Steamboat Springs recently completed an RFP process that not included the redevelopment of city-owned land, but seed money for other community oriented projects.

VARD is willing to assist the city seize this opportunity. We have contacted Micah Austin, the Community Development Director for Ketchum, to assist the City in drafting an RFP for the Beryl site. Mr. Austin is amenable to assisting the city and has worked with several different URAs in Idaho (Jerome, Hailey, and Ketchum) and the state’s leading legal expert on Idaho URAs, Ryan Armbruster.

“The benefit we found to doing and RFP vs. auctioning the property is that you have more controls over what use goes onto the land, the timeframe, and assurance that the developer has the financial backing to make the project work.”

-Robin Collins, Assistant Economic Development Director, City of Nampa

To manage the RFP process, we suggest including a budget to provide contract assistance to the city’s Planning & Zoning Administrator. This will provide the experience and resources necessary to ensure the development of a successful project. Mr. Austin has expressed a willingness to assist the city in this regard as well.

In sum, we strongly encourage the city to take a proactive stance toward its future and catalyze the redevelopment of its downtown.

Respectfully,

Shawn W. Hill

Executive Director

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